Flying Ants Day & Birthday Celebrations

I have started into my sixty-third orbit of the sun, and to mark the occasion I include here excerpts from my Instagram write-about-my-garden every day challenge. Each day’s entry is written to a given theme. Luckily, there was plenty of cake to inspire me. Here’s my garden week:

Monday: Birthday Blooms

It’s my breithlá and I relaxed in the garden on Monday morning.
The beautiful blooms, assembled using YouCollage, are… Lily Trumpeter, Rosa Just Joey, Cornflower, Geranium Johnson Blue, Strawberry Red, Begonia, and mixed grasses. Although last one is technically not a beautiful bloomer, I’m taking liberty of adding it, coz it’s my birthday.

Tuesday: Three Little Things

I’ve completed a separate article because I had wine. It’s a bit long, and it’s “deadly”. You don’t know what deadly really means? Have a read and pay particular attention to the comments!

Wednesday : The Scent of Summer

I’m half way through the month and actually enjoying this challenge to write something about my garden (mostly my garden) every day.
My good friend Tricia shares a birthday with me, and we celebrated it for a few hours together with her lovely children on Monday, and I was given a brand new mug to start off my 63rd year. Today, as I sit at the breakfast corner, with my toast, double-yolk egg and coffee, I get the scent of Lily Trumpeter from a distance of ten metres. The coffee smells good too.

Thursday: Mismatched

I’m the gardener and OH is the crafter. Therefore, there is a craft room and a garden operating side by side, in aice a gcéile. It’s a mismatch, but one that actually helps us be together. A mismatch made in heaven? I wouldn’t go that far, but we have toiled here for thirty-two sun orbits. Neither puts in on the other, despite varying interests.

7pm update: The seagulls are circling as the flying ants leave their nests to find a new home. It’s a feeding frenzy, but I suspect that enough of the little girls will survive. Surely, they know that they’ve been through a battlezone, and will settle into their new homes, grateful that the natural urge to run the gauntlet has been successful. On the other hand, surely the seagulls are taking it easy now that they’ve had a feed of protein other than fish. Bit like Christmas Day for them.

Friday – To Shop Or Not To Shop

If it’s a choice between the two, I now choose NOT TO SHOP. My garden is in good shape, probably the best it’s been for quite a long while. Also, given everything that has happened this year, many folk have come to the conclusion that we can live gratefully without spending.

Most summers I draw a line somewhere in June. After that, the garden is there to enjoy & relax in. The summer annuals are in. The bulk of the work is done and only small maintenance jobs are on the agenda, such as watering and some weeding. No further purchases are needed until tree & shrub planting in November. That’s also the beginning of seed catalogue browsing, which will lead to shopping. There’s a commonly used phrase “Shop till you drop” and I now amend it to “Drop the Shopping”.

Pádraig,

13th-17th July 2020

Galway Lilies and Fields of Athenry

I have watched the long buds form slowly, and I’ve waited and waited for the first one to open. The Gaway Lily made me wait until yesterday.

We bought three lily bulbs two years ago and now there are four. Last year they were disappointing. This year they are amazing!  The tallest is 2m20cm, followed closely by two more, but the baby one snapped when it was just 50cm. I’m not sure was it the wind or did something eat straight through it. I think it was something.
They were bought in Clonmel Garden Centre but the maroon is definitely a Galway colour!

Lily Gurt Mór

They are not staked, but are supported somewhat by being planted deep within a large pot. Since early April they have shot skywards on a perfectly vertical plane. Then, because of a nearby overhanging apple tree (Apple Tree Duff) the stems arched gently away as soon as the tree came into leaf. Nature is amazing. Come to think of it, if I were a Galway Lily I’d probably do the same.

Our love was on the wing
We had dreams and songs to sing

I have watched the long buds form slowly, and I’ve waited and waited for the first one to open. The Gaway Lily made me wait until yesterday and the others will likely follow very soon.
I will go back over my hand-written notes to find the variety name, and in the meantime I’ll enjoy these beautiful flowers. I’ll enjoy the scent, the colour and the slow pace of maturity on show today and over the next few weeks.

* Any further information or special tips from other Lily lovers would be very much appreciated.

Camouflaged Raindrops

I include here a famous Galway folk ballad written in 1979, remembering the savagery of The Famine in 1847. In recent years it has been adopted by many as a symbol of Irishness, a symbol of struggle against oppression. For anyone interested in the history of England in Ireland, the Wikipedia article about this ballad is very interesting.

Fields of Athenry

By the lonely prison wall
I heard a young girl calling
Michael, they are taking you away
For you stole Trevelyn’s corn
So the young might see the morn
Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay.

Chorus
Low lie the fields of Athenry
Where once we watched the small free birds fly
Our love was on the wing
We had dreams and songs to sing
It’s so lonely ’round the fields of Athenry.

By a lonely prison wall
I heard a young man calling
Nothing matters Mary when you’re free
Against the famine and the crown
I rebelled, they ran me down
Now you must raise our child with dignity.

Chorus

By a lonely harbour wall
She watched the last star falling
As the prison ship sailed out against the sky
She’ll wait and hope and pray
For her love in Botany Bay
It’s so lonely round the fields of Athenry.

Chorus
Damaged by Circumstances

Up the Déise!

Pádraig,

Wednesday, 8th July 2020.

Drought & Waterlogged

Who would have thought that using this vibrant red pot would be a bad idea? Most of my pots are plastic with a few expensive terracotta in the mix, and all have proper drainage. I discovered the vibrant red while doing the twice-yearly shed cleanup. It looked good and I figured it would be a good candidate for the front of Geranium Corner. It was a good idea back in mid-June when there was a drought, because there was no drainage hole. I ndáiríre, there still is none. Unfortunately, when the wheelbarrow-load of rain dropped, I was so taken by how lush everything in the garden looked that I forgot to empty it. Today there’s several inches of water in it, and it is likely  the pelargonium is suffering and the leaves are showing the effects of prolonged water logging. But this is a hardy specimen and will recover.
I call this a geranium. I’m told that pelargonium is more correct. What do you call yours?

On a more philosophical note, I am reminded that my ENTIRE garden is a container, a very large 10×30 metre container. I have placed all my plants in this container over the past thirty years, and the heavens take care of the watering almost entirely. I am so grateful that the garden is naturally well watered.

The resident fairies seem to shy away from vibrant red, so I will leave the pot in place in recognition of Liverpool’s Premier League triumph after many years of adversity.

Hamlet Cigar & A Shocking Discovery

The fairy door has moved AGAIN. It had been behind the Alchemilla for the last few weeks, but the little devils relocated overnight.

There was a time when happiness was a cigar called Hamlet, until TV tobacco advertising was banned. How times have changed! In my case, I did enjoy a cigar every once in a while and yes, it was a Hamlet. Nowadays, other things do the trick very nicely.
I could write a book about the little things in my garden that help the happiness bug, and if I were to pick just one it would be my daily five-minute pre-breakfast garden inspection. I’ve written about it just this week.

“Fairy’s Live Here”

So what caught my eye today? I made a shocking discovery! The fairy door has moved AGAIN. It had been behind the Alchemilla for the last few weeks, but the little devils relocated overnight. Worryingly, they are nearer the house behind a large stone. I dare not get too close, and they will wreak havoc if I tread on their invisible meandering pathways. My boiled egg will be rotten, my bike punctured or the bindweed will return.

Unrelated to the Irish wee folk, I came upon this from Marcel Proust:

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

I have enough people in my life who make me happy, and I am grateful every day.

Finally, I return to the fairies and include here one of my brother’s favourite school poems by William Allingham. I have omitted the two verses not traditionally known as they are a bit offside.

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather!

Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain-lake,
With frogs for their watchdogs,
All night awake.

By the craggy hillside,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn trees
For my pleasure, here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite,
He shall find their sharpest thorns
In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather.

Pádraig,

Thursday, 2nd July 2020.